PITTSFIELD — The Corazonidos Community School will hold sessions at local parks in the coming weeks to engage youth for the summer.
The community school is an effort to encourage kids to learn outside the classroom and develop a passion for discovery. This will be the third year its classes are held in parks around Pittsfield. It is a collaborative effort between Manos Unidas, the RE-FORMation Academy and Roots & Dreams and Mustard Seeds.
Anaelisa Jacobsen, founder of Manos Unidas, a nonprofit community organization in Pittsfield, said the school was developed to help kids rediscover their passion for education after a physical disconnection from school and increased mental stress. This was seen as especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel like this generation of youth is sometimes quite disconnected from a sense of place, a sense of their roots and that’s affecting so many different levels of crisis in our society,” Jacobsen said. “We try to reach kids before they reach a giving up or nihilistic phase.”
Participants are able to “gravitate toward what they like.” Tables will be set up with activities for young people interested in art, music, math, science, physical education, building, and languages such as Spanish and American Sign Language.
Those who come will have a chance to paint, play with blocks, try new instruments, fill out workbooks and more at the sites. The organizers have compared the approach to Montessori schools, which are known for helping students take ownership of their education.
The activities are also open to parents and guardians of children who attend, and there will be parent-child learning activities available. Jacobsen said the environment fosters connection between generations, and helps to bring parents and children closer together.
“It’s not about school, because learning is everything and everywhere,” said Kristina Cardot, founder of the Re-FORMation Academy. “It’s about that passion to continue learning, to find learning, to seek learning and see that education is in everything and that it looks different for everybody.”
Cardot said the efforts are also about helping children and their parents rediscover a sense of identity that may have been lost during the pandemic.
Ultimately, the school hopes to strengthen the connection between young people and the community around them, whether that’s with students, their parents or the educators running the program.
“Planting the seed for love of community is a very important piece that is just very organically part of what we do,” Jacobsen said.